Tuesday, February 15, 2011

House of Representatives

Warning: No political parties were mentioned in the writing of this story. :)

When I was younger, my dad used to call me his "little ambassador." My dad's position in the Oklahoma Conference of Seventh-day Adventists caused him to travel all over the state. I often went with him. One of my favorite times of the year was campmeeting, which is like a Bible camp, where you hear all sorts of good speakers and, for the kids, have terrific meetings that teach you about God.

The ministers, in addition to their other 1,000 duties in life (!), had to arrive early to help pitch the tents. Yep, you read that right. The pastors had to set up tent after tent in the 100+ degree weather in July (hottest month of the year). So as daddy readied himself for some heavy-duty manual labor, I'd head out to find the other kids who'd come with their dads. All the other PKs (preacher kids) banded together during Camp Pitch. Then, in Week Two, the actual week of campmeeting, we'd scatter like the Diaspora to find other friends besides us PKs.

Within a few hours we'd all be hanging out, best of friends, and treating ourselves to snow cones or a dip in the pool. (Did I mention my dad was still hard at work pitching tents? or, if he was really lucky, he'd get to be the Parking Lot Supervisor. This coveted position, while still outside in the extreme, no-shade heat, allowed one to rest while simply waving arms like a semaphore to direct all those crazy Okla drivers as to where to park!)

I got to know everybody, their brother, their cousin, and their dog. Normally an introverted child, I seemed to blossom in this setting and, for just this fortnight, became an outgoing, gregarious person. And again, that's why I was his "little ambassador." He told me I did all the important work of getting to know people and that, because of me, they were naturally predisposed to liking him as well. Not sure if that's true, but it sounded good!

Now, fast-forward to the present day.

The other day we received an interesting note in the mail. A thank-you note, from our apartment complex office. The office manager was thanking my dear husband for going above and beyond, in picking up all the garbage around the Dumpster, because so much was left outside on the ground due to heavy snowfall (the garbage collectors had to make a second trip that day, but John didn't know they were coming back.) John threw so much trash in the Dumpster, it was almost halfway full after he finished. Apparently one of the office workers "caught" him at it! And sent a thank you note. Wonder of wonders!

Now that John occasionally substitutes at Hannah's academy, the staff and teachers have gotten to know him well. He has made quite an impression on them. For one thing, he files a report (yes, people, it's true!) for any teacher he substitutes for, so they know whether the kids behaved themselves--or not. I can't tell you how many times I've gone into the school office and the efficient, matter-of-fact school secretary gushes (and this lady NEVER gushes), "Oh we just LOVE your husband!"
I think of my own child, playing with the children in our neighborhood. Her manners, her compassion, her sheer delight at life--I like to think all of these represent John and me. Even if our neighbors never met either of us parents, would they have an idea of what we are like based on our daughter's behavior? I believe so.

I consider myself well-represented! So now I'm thinking, "Am I representing God in the truest light, so others can see what He's really like? Do they see His love pouring out of me?"

Jesus Christ said numerous times, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." He knew we had questions about what this mysterious Being, this divinity was like. Was God angry and full of wrath? they wanted to know. Well, look at the life of Christ. He healed, loved, cared, gave, taught, shared, spoke, listened, and... died. This Son of God represented His Father by sharing His light and life, and by giving life more abundant.

In the words of 2 Corinthians 5:19: "that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

All for now,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Birthday girl

Happy birthday, precious girl! I can't believe you are now 11 years old! Whew, where does the time go?

This week, for a variety of reasons, as been a bit stressful (could it have something to do with another snow day, anyone??!). But I am hoping it will all settle down and that we can get back into a semblance of a routine after the past two weeks. I mean come on: five snow days in two weeks--in TEXAS?? who'd a thunk it?

We invited one of Hannah's friends to sleep over Tuesday night. Having heard the weather report, I told her mom that maybe she should pack extra clothes. Good thing, I did! But they had a good time, I must say. They built tents, played Uno, played Barbies and Build-a-Bear, sang Christmas songs so loud I had to put earphones on, roasted marshmallows, and generally talked and giggled their lives away for two whole days! Come to think of it, not a bad way to spend a snow day, is it?

Hannah and her friend told everyone about the prank I pulled on them last night. Now, I am not a big prankster usually. I don't like them pulled on me often. In the past, my depression made me just take everything so to heart that it was hard to laugh at all, at myself, or the situation. I think I'm doing a little better.

Anyway, I couldn't resist: They decided to camp out on the floor so they would have more room. They were being silly and pulled their blankets over their heads. I leaned over and opened the door for a couple of seconds and then closed it, as if I'd left. Then I leaned in real close next to their heads and when they cautiously peeked out from under the blanket, I said, "Boo!" Shrieks and screams and laughter filled the room for the next two minutes. And here I was supposed to be settling them down! ha!

Hannah got phone calls from family--Aunt Pam called and Hannah was so excited to visit with her. And then we were surprised when later we realized we'd missed both sets of grandparents' phone calls! We were carrying on in Hannah's bedroom a little too much--we were a wild bunch, I tell ya! ha!

All for now,

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A different point of view

Image: Watercolors and black pen
I didn't like what she was telling me. Not at all.

Her statement? "Tricia, you can't judge others by your own strengths, if they are not strong in the same traits as you."
That statement has taken me two years to fully process and understand what she was trying to say. My strength, in the conversation, had to do with being good at correspondence, in keeping in touch with family and friends. In the course of our talk, I had complained to her about a mutual friend of ours who had not kept in touch while we lived away from Texas for six years. "You should go visit her," said my friend. "She'd love to see you."

"I don't think she really cares," I said in a whiny voice. "She only emailed me once or twice while we were gone!"
If I expected sympathy, I would be sorely disappointed. But she has a point. A very good point.

How many times have I hoped that others would love me in spite of my weaknesses, in spite of the fact that my "weakness" might hurt people?

Like the times I need solitude, and someone else, say Hannah, wants to spend quality time with me. Or when a family member feels bad that our family doesn't travel much due to low or no $$, or that I go a little nuts thinking about being in the car for long stretches of time because then I'm "trapped" and cannot have the quiet I need. How do you explain that to someone else, especially when you've had another someone "rip into you" for being the way you are? Makes you draw within yourself and just stop explaining or giving reasons!

In the past year, I've had some situations where someone said or did something and I took it the wrong way. Maybe, just maybe, they were needing me to look beyond the "initial hurt" to see their point of view!

Like the time...

*** someone at Hannah's school didn't pay much attention to me when I was trying to discuss something super important to me. She was super distracted, even though she'd said it was a good time to talk. I found out later she is just someone who is easily distracted (adult ADD?), and has a difficult time keeping focused or not losing things like keys or cell phone. Instead of thinking she "didn't care," maybe I should just realize we needed to talk at a different time!

We never know when someone may feel insecure or inferior (weak) about something. Then something we say or do can trigger them to feel defensive or angry. I guess that's why the Bible cautions us to be "slow to anger." It also has lots of verses about controlling the tongue. I'm trying to learn not be to so reactive. That maybe there's a whole background story there for that person that has nothing to do with me.

And isn't learning to love, in any circumstance, what it's really all about?

Is it easy? Uh, no. Not for me anyway. But I can't give up. I won't give up. Because I'm learning from the Strongest Person I know, the most ForGiving Person I know. And I can't give up until He gives up.